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November 24, 2014 / mintcustard

Paddington’s paw prints – Don’t panic it’s a biscuit!.

Paddington Bear's paw print biscuits.

Paddington Bear’s paw print biscuits.

Journeys to and from Cornwall as a child, crammed in the back of the family Cortina, were made a little easier by a Bear named Paddington. Micheal Horden’s velvet tones soothed sibling rivalries and gave us all a craving for marmalade sandwiches to boot. I am really looking forward to going to see the movie. I know my two are now 17 and 20 but they might just come with me (yeah right!)

Anyhow, a little leftover cookie dough and a life spent day dreaming gave me an idea for a Paddington bear biscuit. Flavouring the biscuit dough with some orange zest might just mean that you have some competition for these biscuits from a small Peruvian bear.

Paddington’s paw prints.

100g soft butter

50g caster sugar

150g plain flour

Zest of one orange

How to

  • Preheat the oven to 160c
  • Beat together the butter, orange zest and sugar until well combined.
  • Work in the flour, first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands.
  • Knead together until the dough becomes uniform and pliable.
  • Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Pinch off a ball of dough about the size of a walnut and four small balls the size of a marble.
  • Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Position the large dough ball and then put the small balls around the edge of the larger. Press down gently.
  • Before and after flattening.

    Before and after flattening.

  • Pop into the fridge for 10 minutes to set up a little before baking. This makes the shape and edges stay sharp when baked.
Chill before baking.

Chill before baking.

  • Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until just beginning to darken slightly.

Make a cup of cocoa, get a plate of biscuits, a cream bun or two and settle down for a gossip with Mr Gruber. If anyone suggests otherwise, a Paddington Bear stare may be in order.



November 22, 2014 / mintcustard

A celebratory evening for Parma ham specialists Terroni and sons.

Terroni and Sons, Clerkenwell.

Terroni and Sons, Clerkenwell.

You know that list you have in your head, the one entitled “when I win the lottery I will ….” Well, near the top of mine is ‘buy a house on the island of Ischia.’ Noisy, bustling and lapped by the warm waters of the Bay of Naples it is a place I love. I don’t get to visit too often but last week I found another little piece of Italy far nearer to my home, and it is one I shall be returning to soon.

On Monday 17th November, Terroni & Son’s hosted an exclusive Parma Ham celebratory evening to mark their status as winners of the Parma Ham Specialist programme, 2013. Well known chef Aldo Zilli presented the 2013 Specialist programme winners with their Crown Anniversary Slicer. I and my fellow guests were invited to try a selection of Parma Ham themed canapés; fine Italian prosecco and freshly sliced Parma Ham throughout the evening. Oh goodness. I could , and indeed think I may have tried, to have eaten my body weight in the most delicious Parma ham canapes.

Parma Ham is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product and is 100% natural. The drying process that Parma Ham goes through creates a ham that is very low in fat content, with many mineral salts, vitamins, antioxidants and easily digestible proteins. Prosciutto di Parma is produced in the hills surrounding the Italian town of Parma, a northern town in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. The unique, sweet taste of Parma Ham is dependent on this traditional production process passed down from Roman times, carefully controlled by the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma. There are over 150 Parma Ham producers in Italy who continue to practice these methods.

Aldo Zilli and the Ferrari of Parma ham slicers.

Aldo Zilli and the Ferrari of Parma ham slicers.

Terroni & Son’s is London’s oldest delicatessen, having been established in 1878. They offer a wide range of Italian foods and provisions including speciality wines and cured meats. Its prime location next door to the Italian church, St. Peter’s in Clerkenwell has made it synonymous with the local Italian population. Carrying over 130 years of experience, Terroni have a reputation as the number one delicatessen in London. Terroni & Son’s showcased extensive knowledge of Parma Ham in addition to understanding how to perfectly handle, prepare and slice the product. These fantastic qualities, history and focused approach all contributed to them being named the UK Specialist of 2013.

Not only that, they had the most wonderful looking selection of goodies on their menu board. I have a feeling they make a killer expresso too. I’m going back soon to find out.

Here are three of the recipes from the evening. All delicious – I can vouch for this as I tried them all! Ideal for a Christmas drinks party, New years eve or just a night in watching the Italian Job!

Parma ham wrapped bocconcini.

Parma ham wrapped bocconcini.

Chilli-lemon and coriander drenched bocconicini wrapped in Parma Ham

Makes 20 canapés

20 mozzarella pearls

10 slices Parma Ham


2 tbsp coriander, chopped

Zest and juice of 2 limes

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp runny honey

  • Mix together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the mozzarella pearls

  • Leave, covered, to marinate for 1-4 hours

  • Wrap each mozzarella ball in half a slice of Parma Ham and skewer with a cocktail stick before serving to guests



Parma Ham, goats cheese, avocado and fresh herb bruschetta

Makes 10 bruschettas

10 thin slices of ciabatta bread

Olive oil

1 clove garlic

5 basil leaves

2 avocados, peeled, stoned, sliced and drenched in lemon juice

100g crumbly goats cheese

Zest of 1 lemon

50g pistachios, roughly chopped

2 handfuls mint leaves, roughly chopped

10 slices Parma Ham

  • Rub each slice of ciabatta with a little olive oil before lightly toasting each side on a hot griddle

  • Remove the toasts from the griddle and rub basil and garlic into each. Season with a little salt and pepper then leave to cool

  • Top each brushetta with avocado slices, goats cheese, lemon zest, pistachios and mint leaves

  • Drizzle each bruschetta with a little olive oil before finishing with a slice of Parma Ham

Parma Ham, peppered cream-cheese and Parmesan blinis with homemade pesto

Makes 20 cocktail blinis

125g cream cheese

1 tsp cracked black pepper

20 cocktail blinis

20 basil leaves

10 slices Parma Ham, halved


1 handful basil

Zest of 1 lemon

20g pine nuts

20g grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic

Pinch black pepper

  • Blend together the ingredients for the pesto, cover and leave in the fridge until needed

  • Mix together the cream cheese and black pepper and leave covered in the fridge until needed

  • When you’re ready to assemble the blinis, simply spread a little peppered cream cheese over each blini, press a basil leaf into the cheese and top with a little homemade pesto before finishing with half a slice of Parma Ham

All photos in this post were taken by John Holdship for The Dialogue Agency.

November 22, 2014 / mintcustard

Giant stained glass window biscuits.

Giant stained glass window gingerbread man.

Giant stained glass window gingerbread man.


Everyone who reads Mintcustard knows I have a bit of a problem with cookie cutters. I cannot walk past one in a shop without it somehow jumping into my trolley. This last week two huge cookie cutters from Sainsbury’s took their place in my cookie cutter drawer. Both the christmas tree and the gingerbread man are ideal for making stained glass window biscuits.

Giant cookie cutter.

Giant cookie cutter.

Stained glass window biscuits.

100g soft butter

50g caster sugar

150g plain flour

clear boiled sweets – fruit flavoured.

How to

    • Preheat the oven to 160c
    • Beat together the butter and sugar until well combined.
    • Work in the flour, first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands.
    • Knead together until the dough becomes uniform and pliable.
    • Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    • Lightly dust a worksurface with flour. Roll out the dough to the thickness of a pound coin. Using a cookie cutters cut out shapes of your choice. Cut out or remove any windows now.
    • Place on a baking tray covered with baking parchment. If you don’t the boiled sweets will weld themselves to the tray.
    • Using a rolling pin break the boiled sweets into small pieces. Place the pieces carefully into the window spaces. fill the space well.
    • Fill the window spaces with crushed boiled sweets.

      Fill the window spaces with crushed boiled sweets.

    • Place on a baking tray and pop into the fridge for 10 minutes to set up a little before baking. This makes the imprint  and edges stay sharp when baked.
    • Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until just beginning to darken slightly and the sweets melt down to a glass like layer.
    • Cool on the tray.
  • Giant Xmas tree cookie with stained glass baubles.

    Giant Xmas tree cookie with stained glass baubles.

    • Ice and decorate further as you wish. Store in a tin.
November 16, 2014 / mintcustard

Sausage plait

Warm and comforting sausage plait.

Warm and comforting sausage plait.

Sausage plait is one of those dishes I can’t remember first having. Not a staple in our house but one that cropped up every so often. And then they taught us to make it at school too. These days the quality of the sausagemeat is better, the flavours and seasoning added into the dish more varied and the pastry is home made but the fun of makeing and the delight ineating a sausage plasit is just the same as ever.

We all know a sausage plait is simply a super sized and somewhat pimped sausage roll but still, a delicious weekend meal. If you are lucky you might even have a little leftover for your lunchbox in the week.

I’m sorry about the lack of photos, but despite what the other members of the household think I don’t photograph everything I eat. I wasn’t going to blog this sausage plait recipe but instagram went mad for my only photo yesterday so I thought I’d share.

Sausage plait

Either 1 pack good quality shortcrust pastry or make your own with 250 g flour, 125g butter and lard mix.

2 packs good quality sausages, skinned

1 small onion finely chopped

1 small pepper finely chopped

3 mushrooms finely chopped

tomato puree


worcester sauce

salt and pepper

beaten egg to egg wash the plait.

How to …

  • Make the pastry if using home made and pop into the fridge to rest.
  • Preheat the oven to 200c
  • In a small frying pan cook the onion, peppers and mushrooms until softened. If you want to add some garlic you can do this too. Leave to cool.
  • Place the sausage meat into a big bowl, add in the cooled vegetables, a squeeze of puree, a dollop of mustard and a good shake of Worcester sauce. Season with salt and pepper here too.
  • Roll out the pastry until it is a rectangle, 12″ by 15′ and about the thickness of a pound coin.
  • Trim the edges to neaten a little.
  • Lay the sausage meat down the middle of the pastry.
  • You can wrap this like a conventional sausage roll or look on YouTube to find a video of the plaiting method for sausage plaits.
  • Place on a baking tray line with baking parchment.
  • Egg wash the pastry.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through.

Serve this with a big green salad and a glass of cold white wine.


November 16, 2014 / mintcustard

#clearaplate – love your leftovers. A recipe bank of ideas.

Funny what catches your eye,stops you and makes you think isn’t it? Earlier this week I came across the #clearaplate campaign from Project Sunlight, in conjunction with Oxfam. The core values of the campaign are to fight against food waste in commercial settings, at the home level and to provide assistance to families struggling with food poverty.

In the UK today, 11,500 tonnes of food will be thrown away, yet one in five families will struggle to put food on the table. Project Sunlight has already provided two million meals to British families through their partnership with Oxfam UK. With our help they are aiming to provide half a million more. #ClearAPlate because no one should struggle to feed their family while food is being wasted.

What can I do? I’m only one person, but I’m a person who writes about food all the time. I am passionate about leftovers and what you can do with them. I have written so many leftover recipes. So that what I’m doing for #clearaplate.  What I have I’m willing to share.  To be fair, they have been freely available on Mintcustard for ever but now I’m putting them all together in one place. I’ve sorted them into categories by ingredient type. I hope this helps. As I publish new recipes on Mintcustard I’ll try to remember to update this list.

Meat leftovers

Monday Pie, using up leftover roast chicken. (or turkey)

Chilli dogs, using up leftover roast beef or beef casserole

Vietnamese spring rolls, using up leftover lamb, or any meat you happen to have!

Chicken stock and a chicken noodle soup – don’t throw away the chicken or turkey carcass.

Char sui bao, steamed pork buns filled with leftover pork

Vegetable leftovers

Broccoli Stalk soup – yep, don’t throw the stalk away!

Fridge bottom risotto, using up those unloved vegetables

Pepper baked tortillas – yesterday’s roast potatoes get used up

Roasted pumpkin fougasse – using up squash and pumpkin

Fridge bottom quiche with a potato crust

Potato scones – using up leftover mash

Panzanella – using up leftover tomatoes, and ideal packed lunch salad.

Sweets and snack leftovers

Tiffin, using up leftover chocolate and biscuits

Compost cookies – sweet and savoury snacks used up together.

There are also many fantastic meal planning blogs. I urge you to make use of their expertise and enthusiasm.

Everyone can make a difference

Let’s hope that our generation can be the one that ends food poverty in the UK. No child should go to school hungry, no Mum should skip meals to feed her family, no older person should live on tea and biscuits. But they do.

What are YOU going to do to stop this happening?



November 14, 2014 / mintcustard

Pudsey’s polka dot cookies – an easy cake sale bake.

Pudsey cookies waiting to be baked.

Pudsey cookies waiting to be baked.

Everyone loves a home made cake or biscuit. I know I bake all the time, but still if I see a stall selling home made baking I’m often first in the queue. I also try to contribute if I can. These quick and simple giant cookies are ideal for a bake sale. Today I pimped them with Smarties as I wanted to pay homage to Pudsey and support Children in Need. You could add in cocoa, chocolate chunks, dried fruit anything you like.



Polka dot cookies.

125g butter

150g soft brown sugar

1 egg

150g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda.

a minimum of 150g of mix ins (chocolate chunks, dried fruit etc)

Baked biscuits.

Baked biscuits.

How to …. (makes about 12)

  • Preheat the oven to 190c.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy and paleer.
  • Beat in the egg and again beat until light and fluffy.
  • Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Fold in with a metal spoon. (If mixing in extras do so now)
  • Line a baking tray with parchment.
  • Place a dessert spoon of mixture onto the parchment. Space out well as the biscuits will expand.
  • As I was making polka dot cookies I placed the Smarties onto the cookie dough rather than stirring them in.
  • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until well spread and golden.
  • Cool on the tray for five minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
Bagged and ready to sell.

Bagged and ready to sell.

Bag up, sell lots and make money for your chosen charity.

November 14, 2014 / mintcustard

PBJ swirl bread

Peanut butter and jelly swirl bread.

Peanut butter and jelly swirl bread.

Making a loaf of bread, early on a Saturday morning is one of my little pleasures in life. Everyone else is fast asleep, I’m not that good at laying in bed awake so I get up and do what I do best, I bake.

Who doesn’t love waking to the smell of fresh bread?

I was knocking up a basic white loaf and perhaps I was imagining, well I was almost certainly imagining, how delicious warm bread tastes when slathered with peanut butter and jelly. So, instead of putting the PBJ on the bread, what if I put it into the bread?

So that’s what I did.

Basic white bread recipe.

500g strong white bread flour

25g butter or 1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp dried active yeast

320 mls warm water

Love the squeezy bottle of grape jelly.

Love the squeezy bottle of grape jelly.

How to …

  • Activate the yeast in the warm water and add in the sugar. Leave until foaming.
  • Rub the butter into the flour, stir in the activated yeast and mix to form a dough.
  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes and then place in a lightly oiled bowl. Leave for an hour and a half or until doubled in size.
  • Knock back, take 2/3 of the dough and shape into a bloomer. Take the other third, push out until rectangular.
  • Smother with peanut butter and top with jam. Roll up like a swiss roll and leave both to rise again for 30 minutes.
Slathered with peanut butter and jelly!

Slathered with peanut butter and jelly!

  • Preheat the oven to 220 c.
  • Place on a baking tray.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.


Now you can choose. If you want PBJ swirl bread cut a slice and indulge, if you’d rather have marmite then I’m not stopping you either as the bloomer should keep you happy too.



October 29, 2014 / mintcustard

Roasted pumpkin fougasse

Roasted pumpkin fougasse.

Roasted pumpkin fougasse.

I simply adore pumpkin and refuse to waste any food if at all possible so this is how the Roasted pumpkin fougasse came about. I am of the opinion that fresh bread is always best served with company. As a share and tear loaf , this fits the bill perfectly as well as looking so pretty in the middle of the table, before the feeding frenzy that is! You can roast a chunk of pumpkin or squash especially for this dish but why not use up the chunks of pumpkin leftover from carving your jack o’lantern? A bonus treat.

Roasted pumpkin chunks

Roasted pumpkin chunks


500g strong white bread flour

320 ml warm water

A cereal bowl full of roasted pumpkin pieces, skin off and chopped into cubes.

1 heaped tsp dried active yeast

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

salt and pepper

(finely sliced red onion and a sprig of rosemary adds to this dish nicely if you have them to hand.)

How to

  • In a jug combine the water, sugar and yeast and allow the yeast to activate.
  • In a big bowl put the flour, oil and salt. When the yeast is foaming nicely add to the flour and combine to form a dough.
  • Tip onto the worksurface and kneed for 10 minutes until elastic and smooth.
  • Place in an oiled bowl, cover (I use a shower cap!) and leavefor 1 to 1.5 hours until doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 220c
  • Add the pumpkin to the dough and combine well. This will knock the dough back. Don’t be too heavy handed as you want chunks of dough visible not a layer of puree in the bread. If you are using the finely sliced onion and rosemary add them now too.
  • Flour a baking tray well. On the work surface push out the dough with your fngertips into a rough teardrop shape. If the dough is too big for your baking tray then use another and make two smaller fougasse.
  • Lay the teardrop shaped dough onto the floured tray, take a pizza cutter or a sharp knife and make cuts as in the picture, one down the centre and two or three where the veins of a leaf would be. Gently pull these open.
Waiting to prove again.

Waiting to prove again.

  • Cover and leave to rise again for 30 minutes,
  • Drizzle with a little oil, season with salt flakes and freshly ground pepper.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and well risen.
  • Devour.

Make absolute sense to add this to October’s Credit crunch munch.

This month it is being hosted by Hannah over at A new addition, taking on this challenge run so ably by Helen at Fuss free flavours and Camilla at Fab Food 4 All

October 28, 2014 / mintcustard

Chicken and pumpkin midweek roast.


Chicken and pumpkin midweek roast

At this time of year everyone is piling pumpkins into their shopping trolleys. The problem is no one intends on eating them, and people, you are missing a real treat.

To be fair those huge orange pumpkins on offer for 3 pounds a pop are not really grown for flavour but now is the time to investigate the other squashes on offer in greengrocers, on the market stalls and in some supermarkets too. If you really cannot find a Crown Prince or a Turks Turban there are always butternut squashes around.

Beautiful autumn squash.

Beautiful autumn squash.

This very simple one tray chicken dish uses half a butternut squash. Roast the rest though as my next post is a bread recipe that will use the second half, in a pumpkin fougasse.

As the nights draw in, a big tray of roasted vegetables topped with a crispy chunk of chicken is just the kind of comforting dish we all crave. I happened to have some tomatoes and a bunch of asparagus in my fridge. Use what you have, peppers, mushrooms, carrots and parsnips all work well.


1 chicken portioned into 8 pieces (learn to do this, it will save you a fortune)

2 large floury potatoes cut into 1cm slices

1 red onion, peeled and cut into chunks

1/2 a butternut squash, peeled and cut into rough dice

2 to 4 garlic cloves, bruised

1 bunch of asparagus

2 strings of tomatoes on the vine.


olive oil

How to  (serves 4 takes 1 hr 10 minutes cooking time)

  • Preheat the oven to 200c
  • Take a large baking tray and oil it. Season well with salt and pepper. Scatter over the potato slices. Toss in the seasoned oil until well coated.
  • Bake the potato slices for 20 minutes.
  • Add the butternut squash chunks to the baking tray, add a little more oil and season. Pop in the garlic cloves and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  • Season the chicken pieces with a little salt and pepper. Next lay on the chicken pieces into the baking tray, scatter in the onions and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Finally add in the asparagus, the tomatoes and bake for a final 20 minutes.
  • Check that the chicken is cooked through. Serve with a glass of wine and a roaring open fire.


October 26, 2014 / mintcustard

Crisp sugar biscuits, ideal for use with cookie cutters.

The leg bone is connected to the hip bone....

The leg bone is connected to the hip bone….

My name is Becky, and I have a problem with cookie cutters. I know I have confessed this in the past in my Cheesy Hammy Dodgers post. I have a whole drawer full of the things. In my house there are everyday cookie cutters (shapes, letters, numbers etc) and then there are seasonal ones, (Easter, Xmas and Halloween). This causes me a pre issues. As I have so many of the damn things I sometimes forget about certain cutters until it is too late and then I have to wait a whole year before I can forget to use them again!

This doesn’t happen with my Halloween cutters. I love them so much that I’m itching to use them from the start of October.

Halloween cookie cutters

Halloween cookie cutters

As you can imagine, with this many cookie cuttersI have also been able to perfect a foolproof cookie recipe that cuts cleanly, snaps when bitten into and holds an image stamped into it too.

This recipe comes in a cheese version, as in the Cheesy Hammy Dodgers recipe, a vanilla version as taken from Nanna’s quick stamped shortbreads and now in a chocolate version.

Chocolate sugar biscuits.

100g soft butter

25g caster sugar

25g soft brown sugar

125g plain flour

25g cocoa powder

How to

    • Preheat the oven to 160c
    • Beat together the butter and sugar until well combined.
    • Work in the flour, first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands.
    • Knead together until the dough becomes uniform and pliable.
    • Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    • Lightly dust a worksurface with flour. Roll out the dough to the thickness of a pound coin. Using your favourite cookie cutters cut out shapes of your choice. Press in any decoration now.
    • Place on a baking tray and pop into the fridge for 10 minutes to set up a little before baking. This makes the imprint  and edges stay sharp when baked.
    • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until just beginning to darken slightly.
    • Place on a wire rack to cool.
    • Ice and decorate as you wish. Store in a tin.
  • Scary biscuits!

    Scary biscuits!

    Does anyone else have a cookie cutter drawer? Which recipe do you use for your cut out cookies and biscuits?


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